• The Committee approved an ordinance giving the Department of Transportationauthority to remove about a dozen street signs downtown as part of the Loop Link Project, among other routine matters like residential parking permits and loading zones on an 18 page agenda. The ordinance will help the DOT as it adds new bus stations, protected bike lanes and designated bus lanes, as planned under the $41.5 million project.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Walter Burnett (27), Vice Chair Deb Mell (33), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Jason Ervin (28), Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), Ald. Emma Mitts (37), Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41), Ald. James Cappleman (46), Ald. Debra Silverstein (50)
    Start time: 12:00pm

    Testimony about the Loop Link Project from Michael Amsden, the Assistant Director for Transportation Planning, took up the bulk of the 15 minute meeting Thursday. Amsden responded to questioning from Ald. Emma Mitts (37) about funding, saying a federal grant is paying for half of the project, as well as $19 million in TIF Funds and $1 million in state money. Ald. Matt O’Shea (19) asked if the Department plans to replicate rapid-bus transit and designated bus lanes in other parts of the city. Amsden said expansion plans are slow moving, as the CTA has received a lot of public comment on the issue. Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41), a former police officer, wanted to know whether the city plans to use cameras to enforce the designated bus lanes. Amsden says there will be manual enforcement by police on the ground.
  • Yesterday afternoon Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Eileen Mitchell will take over as his Chief of Staff in mid-August. Currently AT&T Illinois' Vice President of External Affairs and a registered lobbyist, Mitchell was previously Issues Director and Special Assistant for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. She also volunteers as Chairman of the Leader Council for Mercy Home for Boys & Girlsand serves on the advisory board for Misericordia, a non-profit that provides housing for the developmentally disabled, according the the press release from the Mayor’s Office. Mitchell replaces Forrest Claypool, who was recently appointed as the CEO for Chicago Public Schools after working in the Mayor’s Office for less than three months.

    ComEd executive John Hooker will take over as Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Board. He’ll replace Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott, who held the position for the past four years. Hooker has worked at ComEd for 44-years and is currently the company’s Executive Vice President of Legislative and External Affairs. The CHA Board is a ten-member body and commissioners serve five-year terms. Their appointments need City Council approval.

    Progressive Caucus Meetup
    The City Council’s Progressive Caucus will hold a public meeting 6:00pm Sunday night at Puebla Restaurant (2658 N. Milwaukee). Each month, one member of the eleven member caucus commits to hosting a meet and greet with the public to discuss their agenda and priorities for the city. This month, newly-elected Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) will host.

    Developer Withdraws Plans to Build Residential Highrise in Lincoln Park
    Ald. Michele Smith (43) announced developer Lexington Homes LLC will not move forward with its plan to build a 17-story, 78-unit apartment complex at the site of the Market Place Food Store (523 W. Diversey / 2775 N. Hampden Court). “After several months of discussion and prolonged negotiations among my office, the Park West Community Association, local neighbors and the developer to explore potential changes, it became clear that the current proposal could not be realistically modified to address neighborhood concerns,” Ald. Smith wrote in an email.

    Obama Romantic 'Dramedy' Filming in 4th Ward This Weekend
    Ald. Will Burns (4) notified ward residents about street closures related to filming for the upcoming movie "Southside With You". The film follows a young Barack and Michelle Obama on their first date in Chicago. In an email sent to Burns' 4th Ward newsletter subscribers, location managers say they have cooperation from the City's Film and Police Departments. "In the past Thirty-five [sic] years, more than 1300 film and television projects have been made in Illinois creating over 700,000 temporary jobs and leaving in excess of 1.7 billion dollars in our economy," the email says, "Ultimately it is the cooperation of individuals like you that make Illinois a great place to make movies."
  • Chicago public health inspectors would have the authority to ticket dry cleaning facilities and auto repair shops that improperly dispose of perchloroethylene (“PERC”), a hazardous chemical found in polishes and cleaners, according to an ordinance the committee approved Thursday.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman George Cardenas (12), Ald. Brian Hopkins (2), Ald. Gregory Mitchell (7), Ald. Toni Foulkes (16), Ald. Deb Mell (33), Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35), Ald. Emma Mitts (37).
    Start Time: 10:30 a.m.

    The Environmental Protection Agency says long-term exposure to PERC can contribute to cancer and lead to “impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance.” There are state and federal laws regulating the use and disposal of the solvent, but the city has had to rely on state inspectors for enforcement.

    The ordinance Mayor Emanuel introduced on behalf of the city’s public health department aligns Chicago code with state and federal standards. City inspectors would now be able to ticket businesses that violate those laws. Fines range from $1,000 to $5,000. Dave Graham, the Assistant Commissioner with the Department of Public Health, told the committee the state has been asking the city to take over enforcement for the past three years. It’s actually easier for the city to issue violations, Graham says, because the “administrative hearing enforcement process” takes just two months. When the state regulates the chemical, violations are handled through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Attorney General’s office.

    Before the vote, Ald. Emma Mitts (37) asked if anyone from the dry cleaning industry was going to testify. Chairman George Cardenas (12) said council fixture George Blakemore was the only person who signed up to comment.

  • The Zoning Committee pushed through more than 50 agenda items in about three hours Wednesday morning, dedicating only a few minutes per agenda item and hearing little public opposition. The Committee approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of Judy Frydland as the new Commissioner for the Department of Buildings, approved an ordinance to create the Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission and approved several large scale development projects. With committee approval yesterday, projects like the proposed Nobu Hotel in Fulton Market, a residential complex off the Brown Line’s Southport stop and a new development next to the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park have one final hurdle: approval from the full City Council next week.

    We have highlighted some of the items discussed at yesterday’s meeting and provide a list and brief synopsis of deferred items.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (46), Joe Moreno (1), Michelle Harris (8),  David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Carrie Austin (34), Margaret Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44)
    Also present: Anthony Beale (9), Gilbert Villegas (36), Michelle Smith (43)
    Start time: 10:00am

    Approved Items – Highlights

    Appointment of Judy Frydland as Commissioner of Buildings
    The Committee swiftly approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s request to put Judy Frydland in charge of the Department of Buildings. Fryland is currently serving as Acting Commissioner. Her appointment requires City Council approval.

    Frydland made a brief statement highlighting her 25 years with the City’s Law Department where she prosecuted landlords and revoked licenses from law-breaking business owners. Frydland highlighted some of her highest profile cases, including the E2 nightclub disaster in 2003. 21 patrons were crushed to death after a security guard used pepper spray to stop a fight, prompting more than a thousand patrons to flee down a narrow staircase. Frydland said she was also part of the prosecution that took on the owner responsible for the 2003 Lincoln Park porch collapse that killed 13 people and injured dozens, and the construction firm that abandoned a crane on top of the Waterview Tower in 2010.

    Following her testimony, Ald. James Cappleman (46) made sure to mention additional accomplishments, like her work on the Hotel Chateau and the Uptown Theater. Ald. Margaret Laurino (39), Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. David Moore (17), and Ald. Michelle Harris (8) added to the praise, and Ald. Walter Burnett (27)joked Frydland is “cold, but fair,” warning developers that Frydland wouldn’t hesitate to, “put down the hammer,” to enforce the city’s building codes.

    Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission
    Ald. Anthony Beale (9), who represents the Pullman neighborhood, testified on behalf of an ordinance Mayor Emanuel introduced at the last City Council meeting to create a Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission. Since the official designation ceremony in February, Ald. Beale noted an increased interest in the area, and said he and the Mayor agree on the need for the commission to provide a point of contact for the surrounding community.

    Pullman is the city’s first national monument. The ordinance passed without discussion. The seven member body would include a chairman and six members appointed by the mayor, “with input from Pullman community leaders, business owners, and residents”, according to the ordinance. The board would be responsible for coordinating projects to promote tourism and raise community awareness, maintaining the area, and reporting new developments with the City Council and Mayor’s Office. The board could also solicit and accept public and private contributions, but would have to coordinate spending with the National Park Service.

    Lincoln Center Development Approved – 43rd Ward
    Baker Development Corporation secured approval from the committee to tear down the old Lincoln Center Condos (2500 block of N. Lincoln Ave.) and build a mixed-use residential and commercial building next to the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park. Baker’s plans include a ten story building with 200 residential units, roughly 16,300 square feet of retail space, and at least 138 off-street parking spaces. The neighboring Apollo Theater would remain.

    The Plan Commission approved the application last week, a required step since the developer seeks to rezone the area as a residential business planned development. Attorney Rolando Acosta’s presentation Wednesday highlighted the 18-month review process the developers went through, including nearly 50 community meetings. Three neighborhood residents and local Ald. Michele Smith (43) testified in support. They called the current building an “eyesore,” and said the new development will bring life and commerce to the neighborhood.

    Nobu Hotel for West Randolph – 27th Ward 
    The Nobu Hotel at 848-856 W. Randolph Street won committee approval Wednesday. The Nobu Hospitality Group, started by famed Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, operates hotels and restaurants across the country, and boasts actor Robert De Niro as an investor. The new, 7-story boutique hotel includes 83 hotel rooms and 35 off-site parking spots. Plans also include an amenity level, rooftop penthouse, and outdoor seating for the restaurant. Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. said the scaled-down project is a result of several meetings with five different community organizations over the past two years. “We love hotels,” Ald. Burnett joked. This is third new hotel to come to the 27th Ward.

    The new Soho Club is down the block from the proposed Nobu site, and the Ace Hotel near the Google’s Fulton Market office is almost complete. Ald. Joe Moreno (1) called it a “boutique hotel row.” And while six people signed up to testify in support and against this project when it was brought before the Plan Commission, only one person from the public, George Blakemore, signed up to testify at Wednesday’s meeting.

    90-Year-Old Tavern Seeking Full Service Kitchen – 47th Ward
    Spyners Pub, 4623 N. Western Ave., has been around for almost a century. It’s so old, the building pre-dates the zoning code. It was grandfathered in as a community shopping district (B3-2), according to attorney Thomas Moore. He says his client, Maureen Sullivan, has owned the bar on 4619-23 N. Western Ave. for the last 25 years and is now seeking a zoning change to a neighborhood commercial district (C1-2), so she can add a commercial kitchen and restaurant. The Committee approved the request without discussion.

    Ohio State Teachers Pension Fund-owned Building Gets Rezone – 47th Ward
    Applicant STRS L3 ACQ3, LLC, received approval from the Zoning Committee to rezone the property on 3355-61 N. Lincoln Ave. to lease the first floor to Bareburger, an “upscale burger restaurant and bar.” Attorney Meg George with the law firm Neal and Leroy, says the current zoning doesn’t permit restaurants.

    Ald. Tom Tunney asked about the building’s existing use. George said her clients already tore down the building and are in the middle of constructing a new one. Her client is applying for a special use permit to add a salon on the second floor. Ald. Carrie Austin (34) then asked what the acronym for the LLC stands for, to which George responded, that it is a joint fund of the Ohio State Teachers Pension Fundand L3 Realty. Ald. Austin and Chairman Solis seemed intrigued the pension fund invested in property in Chicago. George said that they own several pieces of property in the city.

    Deferred Items

    The committee deferred five items on the agenda because they require prior approval from the Plan Commission:

    • NO. 18413-T1 (32nd Ward): Jarla LLC submitted an application to rezone an existing sports and recreation facility property on 1819 W. Webster and its two off site parking lots (1823-1855 W. Webster; 2134 N. Wood St.). The three lots are currently designated as a heavy industry district (MS-3), but the applicant wants the site redesignated as a neighborhood commercial district (C1-3) to build a second story outdoor dining area that would serve liquor.

    • NO. 18410 (42nd Ward): Jupiter Realty Company LLC wants to amend Residential Business Planned Development No. 368 to construct a 45 story, 513 ft. tall residential building with 444 units and 181 parking spaces near the new Loews Hotel and North Water ApartmentsAld. Brendan Reilly (42)and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) got a look at development plans in mid-June (slideshow here).

    • NO. 18402 (43rd Ward): The owners of the Inn at Lincoln Park, L.V.M Corporation, want to tear down the existing building to construct a nine story building with a penthouse, 150 hotel rooms, and 7,700 sq. ft. of retail space with an adjoining restaurant that would serve food and liquor outside. Plans also include 83 parking spaces. The applicant needs to rezone the site, 601-09 W. Diversey Pkwy./2726-36 N. Lehmann Ct., from a neighborhood shopping district (B1-2) to a community shopping district (B3-5) and then eventually to a Planned Development. While the plans are over a year old and a public hearing was held in December, the ordinance was referred to the zoning committee in June.

    • NO. 1840 T1 (40th Ward): Half Acre will need approval from the Plan Commission to build a 35,000 sq. ft. brewery that will include a full service kitchen, tasting room and beer garden. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Chicago’s Half Acre Brewery, is managing member of GMB Partners LLC, which manages Bastion of Balmoral, LLC, the applicant on file for this zoning request. The company seeks to rezone 2050 E. Balmoral Ave from a manufacturing zoned district (M1-2) to a commercial district (C3-3).

    • NO. 18415 (2nd & 27th Ward): The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago would like to amend Institutional Planned Development No. 447 to allow for residential use so it can build a senior residence building. The Institute’s PD has been in place since 1989, and currently allows for public ministry, publication, broadcasting, worship, assembly, academic, office, residential and recreational and special uses primarily to support physical education and recreation.

    Deferred at Request of The Attorney

    • No. 18417 (47th Ward): The applicants, Lisa Mullaney and Martin Kelly, applied to rezone their property on 3622 N. Leavitt St. from a residential single unit (RS3) designation to a residential two-flat, townhouse (RT3.5) to build a third floor. They are represented by Mark Kupiec & Associates. Chairman Solis said the attorney on file requested an August hearing.

    • No. 18392 (21st Ward): Miles Management Corporation would like to re-designate the site of its recycling facility from an M1-2 Limited Manufacturing and Business Park District to an M3-2 Heavy Industry District. M1 designated areas are for low impact manufacturing and warehouse distribution, while M3 designated areas are high impact and allow for extractive and waste-related production. M3 areas also permit outside storage of raw materials. According to the application, the property will remain a Class V recycling facility that handles construction and demolition materials.

    • No. 18406 (1st Ward): The applicants, Faizullah and Saba Khan, would like to rezone their property on 1256 N. Wood Street to accommodate construction of a new three-story rear addition. The applicants are represented by the law offices of Samuel V.P. Banks.

    Deferred by Request of Local Alderman

    • No. 18398 T1 (25th Ward): Applicant GLPE LLC, represented by attorney Thomas S. Moore, is asking for the committee to re-zone a chunk of West Loop to build a four story, 70-unit residential building. The site in question (1038-1050 W Monroe St., 1039-1051 W Rundell Pl) is currently zoned as a downtown service district (DS-3), which allows for a mix of small scale office, commercial and public use that is supposed to compliment downtown businesses and residents. Amending the zoning to a downtown mixed use district (DX-3) would accommodate residential use. The property is next to the site of the former Carmichael’s Steakhouse, which announced it was closing its doors earlier this spring. The building’s owners, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, had originally planned to build 131 residential units at the site. But last fall, DNA Info reported Chairman Solis effectively blocked those, or any new apartments from popping up on the 1000 block of West Monroe unless developers had approval from neighbors. Solis asked for the item to be deferred at the start of the meeting, but didn’t say why.

    • No. 18384 (25th Ward): Elizabeth Avina’s application to rezone a property on 1911 W. Cullerton to convert the existing one-story commercial space and basement into two residential dwelling units was first referred to the committee in May. The Chicago Title Land Trust Company owns the property and Avina is the beneficiary.

    • No. 18404 (32nd Ward): The applicant and property owner, Michael Cordaro, wants a zoning change to build a new six-story mixed-use building with 38 apartments, 21 on-site parking spaces, and 12 additional parking spaces behind the building. Cordaro needs to reclassify the site on 1868-78 N. Milwaukee Ave., which has split zoning as a community shopping district (B3-3) and a neighborhood mixed-use district (B2-2). His application seeks a uniform zone: B3-5 Community Shopping District which would change the density allowed on site.

  • The Committee on Public Safety advanced Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of former federal prosecutor and Chicago Police investigator Lori Lightfoot as President of the Chicago Police Board, an independent body that decides disciplinary action against police accused of misconduct. But that support didn’t come without some concern from three new aldermen on the committee who asked Lightfoot to detail her plans to make the Police Board more transparent and the relationship between police and residents more amicable.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30), Gregory Mitchell (7), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Ed Burke (14), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), Chris Taliaferro (29), Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Nick Sposato (38), Anthony Napolitano (41)

    “I ask of you of this one request: treat each and every case with an open mind. Do not view or investigate anybody with a preconceived notion of guilt,” newly elected alderman and former police officer Anthony Napolitano (41) told Lightfoot. Speaking from a prepared statement, Ald. Napolitano told Lightfoot that, “We are now living in a society where the almighty lawsuit rules the country” and numerous “fraudulent cases” filed against police officers around the county have caused police to be “more reactive and less proactive.”

    During her testimony, Lightfoot noted her nomination comes at such a “pivotal national and local time” when cases of police misconduct regularly make national headlines.

    “I am committed to doing my part to make sure there is constructive dialogue. Many of our communities are hurting,” Lightfoot told the committee, noting that while the Police Board plays an “important but limited role” as an impartial decision maker, she’ll do what she can to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency. She emphasized and repeated those goals throughout the nearly 40 minute committee meeting. She also highlighted the importance of the Board’s monthly public meetings because she believes those interactions provide accountability and they help board members “learn how its decisions impact the public.”

    Another former police officer on the committee, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), said after attending several of those meetings over the last nine years, he’s seen room for improvement. He asked Lightfoot if she considered moving the meetings from the public safety building to a more “neutral zone” as a way to improve dialogue with the public. Lightfoot said she couldn’t think of another venue.

    Ald. Taliaferro, who campaigned on a promise to improve community policing in his ward, which includes the Austin neighborhood, also lamented that the disconnect between the city’s police department and his community is at the worst level he has seen during his 21 years as a police officer. He blamed past decisions made by the Police Board as one of the root causes.

    But no alderman on the committee had more questions for Lightfoot than Ald. David Moore (17), who grilled Lightfoot on everything from her thoughts on increasing diversity within the CPD to how the board would handle a police officer caught lying under oath.

    Lightfoot told Moore if there is evidence an officer has lied, they should be terminated. “There is a lie, you die rule across the country,” Lightfoot said.

    When Ald. Moore asked Lightfoot if she believed the Police Board was representative of the city, she responded that was a “tough question,” adding that the board “isn’t just a bunch of lay people.” Moore pressed her, asking how the board could remain impartial if everyone is appointed by the Mayor. Lightfoot said there is a significant amount of transparency in how the board makes its decisions and reminded him that everything the board does is disseminated to the public.

    If the full City Council approves her nomination at the end of the month, it won’t be Lightfoot’s first job with the City of Chicago. Former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard recruited Lightfoot from the US Attorney’s Chicago office in 2002 to head the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS), where she investigated cases of police misconduct. The City replaced OPS in 2007 with what is currently the investigative arm of the police department, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). After two years as Chief Administrator for OPS, Lightfoot worked in the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC), and eventually migrated over to the Office of Procurement Services. Following her tenure with the City, Lightfoot went back to private practice and has since worked with the law firm Mayer Brown.

    The Police Board is made up of nine members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. In addition to Lightfoot’s appointment, Mayor Emanuel has also asked the council to approve two new appointments, John Simpson and Claudia Valenzuela, and to re-appoint William Conlon.

    Simpson is a partner at Broadhaven Capital Partners and spent $77,800 to get Mayor Emanuel re-elected in 2015.

    Valenzuela is an Associate Director of Litigation at the Heartland Alliance National Immigration Justice Center, an organization that provides legal services to immigrants, and Conlon is a partner at Sidley Austin, LLP.
  • The Committee on Zoning meets in the City Council Chambers at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the appointment of Judy Frydland as the new commissioner for the the Department of Buildings and the creation of the Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission, among other routine zoning requests. We also preview major projects like a new Streeterville high-rise and a senior center in the Moody Bible Institute’s planned development.

    Mayoral Appointment of Judy Frydland to Department of Buildings
    (Doc # A2015-46)

    Judy Frydland currently serves as the Deputy Corporation Counsel for the Chicago Department of Law’s Building & License Enforcement Division. If approved by the City Council, Frydland would replace Commissioner Felicia Davis, who was appointed by the Mayor as the Executive Director of the Public Building Commission (PBC), which oversees new construction and renovation projects for the city and sister agencies including the Park District and Chicago Public Schools. Frydland will be responsible for enforcing the building code and modernizing the department, according the to press release the mayor’s office disseminated when the appointment was first announced in May.

    Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission
    (Doc #O2015-4653)

    The ordinance would create a seven member body to oversee and promote tourism to the Pullman National Monument, which received official designation by President Obama in February. Mayor Emanuel introduced the ordinance at the last City Council meeting on behalf of the Department of Planning and Development and in conjunction with Ald. Anthony Beale (9), whose ward encompasses the historic Pullman neighborhood.

    The seven member body would include a chairman and six members appointed by the Mayor, “with input from Pullman community leaders, business owners, and residents”, according to the ordinance. The board would be responsible for coordinating projects to promote tourism and raise community awareness, maintaining the national monument, and reporting new developments with the City Council and Mayor’s Office. The board could also solicit and accept public and private contributions, but would have to coordinate how they spend that money with the National Park Service.

    The terms for the initial six Board members would be equally divided in three groups: two members will serve a one year term; two members will serve a two year term; and two members will serve a three year term. The chair serves for two years. After the initial terms expire, all board members will serve three year terms.

    New residential building near site of Carmichael’s Steakhouse
    (Doc #O2015-4618)

    Applicant GLPE LLC, represented by attorney Thomas S. Moore, is asking for the committee to re-zone a chunk of West Loop to build a four story, 70-unit residential building. The property is next to the site of the former Carmichael’s Steakhouse, which announced it was closing its doors earlier this spring. The building’s owners, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, had originally planned to build 131 residential units at the site. But last fall, DNA Info reported Chairman Danny Solis(25) effectively blocked those, or any new apartments from popping up on the 1000 block of West Monroe unless developers had approval from neighbors.

    Proposed senior living building in Moody Bible Institute PD
    (Doc #O2015-4635)

    The Moody Bible Institute is asking for an amendment to its Institutional Planned Development (No. 477) to allow for construction of a senior residence building. The Institute’s PD has been in place since 1989, and currently allows for public ministry, publication, broadcasting, worship, assembly, academic, office, residential and recreational and special uses primarily to support physical education and recreation. The proposed subarea of the PD along the train tracks parallel to Orleans between Walton and Oak would be designated for no more than 100 senior living units for people 55 years and older. Renderings provided in the proposed ordinance say the 7-story building would be called Wisdom Village Oak Street Senior Living. The Plan Commission approved the application at its March meeting.

    Half Acre plans new brewery on Balmoral in Bowmanville
    (Doc #O2015-4625)

    Bastion of Balmoral LLC is asking for a zoning change from a manufacturing zoned district (M1-2) to a commercial district (C3-3) to establish a brewery with a tasting room and beer garden at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave in the Bowmanville neighborhood just south of Rosehill Cemetery. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Chicago’s Half Acre Brewery, is managing member of GMB Partners LLC, which manages Bastion of Balmoral. In a blog post from March 2014 on Half Acre’s website, the company said it bought the property to serve as an extension to their Lincoln Avenue tap room 5 minutes away. “The additional space will allow us to expand our distribution footprint to the entire Chicagoland area, add more onsite enjoyment at both locations and explore our interests as brewers and beyond.” The space would include a 35,000 sq. ft. brewery, a 16,000 sq. ft. tasting room and full service kitchen and an outdoor terrace.

    New Streeterville high rise proposed near Loews Hotel and North Water Apartments
    (Doc #O2015-4630)

    465 N Park Dr. LLC c/o Jupiter Reality Company LLC is looking for a zoning change in Planned Development No. 368 downtown to build a 45 story, 513 foot tall residential building with 444 residential units near the new Loews Hotel and North Water ApartmentsAld. Brendan Reilly (42) and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) got a look at development plans in mid-June (slideshow here). Developers took down an initial proposal by four floors and 139 parking spaces, while adding 171 units. They also committed to renovating and upgrading nearby Ogden Park. According to Curbed Chicago, “The lot itself was previously approved by the zoning board as a Planned Development for a 57-story residential tower to be developed by a different developer, who backed out of the project years ago. Jupiter was able to develop this new tower with a whole new design under the existing PD, except for the change from condos to apartments necessitating an increase in the number of units as rentals tend to be smaller.”

  • Since Aldertrack tracks weekly contributions from the date the donation was filed with the State Board of Elections (SBOE) rather than the date the contribution was received, this article includes contributions that date back to April, but went unreported until July 15, which is when most aldermen filed their quarterly reports.

    Spreadsheet of Contributions – Download CSV

    For example, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle reported three in-kind contributions for political communications to the candidate committees for Ald. Willie Cochran (21) and AldJames Cappleman (46). The group Preckwinkle for President spent $5,375.04 on “paid communications” for Ald. Cappleman and two in-kind contributions totaling $5,263.78 for phone communications for Ald. Cochran. Since both were reported on July 15, which is the same date the quarterly report was filed, the contributions could be election related.

    In addition to the contribution from President Preckwinkle, Ald. Cochran also reported a $2,500 contribution from A-1 Roofing Company, a commercial roofing and sheet metal company that operates in Chicagoland and Northern Illinois. While the company hasn’t had a contract with the City of Chicago since 2002, it is on the pre-qualified list of contractors for Chicago Public Schools. Ald. Cappleman also got a $1,000 donation from The Building Group Inc., a property management company that oversees several high-rise, mid-rise, town homes, co-ops, and rentals across the city and surrounding suburbs.

    Ald. Margaret Laurino (39) reported receiving $2,500 from Chicago Food Corporation President Ki P. Hong. The CFC owns three stores in Chicago that specialize in Asian produce and groceries. One of their stores, Hi Mart, sells restaurant supplies, gift sets, and china. The company, founded in 1980, bills itself as one of the largest suppliers of specialty food imported from Asia.

    Ald. Pat Dowell (3) got a $1,000 boost from labor. The A-1 Ald. Dowell reported lists “Construction & General Labors”, but the address matches up with the Chicago Laborers District Council, a labor organization with 20 local affiliates representing 20,000 construction workers across the city. The organization is part of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA).

    ComEd transferred $1,500 from its political action group, ComEdPAC to Ald. Carrie Austin (34).

    Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) reported a $1,000 contribution from Brown and Momen, Inc., a general contracting service company.

    Ald. Deb Mell (33) reported receiving $1,000 from the owner of Cermak ProduceJimmy Bousis, and Ald. Toni Foulkes (16) reported a $1,000 contribution from UKAMAA Construction, Inc., which mainly does large-scale projects for retail, healthcare and higher education. UKAMAA built the Aldi supermarket in Chatham, among other projects.

    New D-1s Filed

    Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) created a new political action committee United Neighbors of the 35th Ward, tasked with “organiz[ing] support of local candidates and issues chosen by our members,” according to the D-1 Ald. Ramirez-Rosa filed with the State Board of Elections on May 22. It is common for aldermen to create political action committees because they do not have the same contribution restrictions as candidate political committees. The committee currently has $619 of un-itemized contributions, according to the quarterly report filed July 15.

    Newly elected Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24) plans to run for 24th Ward Democratic Committeeman according to this D-1 Ald. Scott filed with the SBOE July 13. The seat formerly held by retired Ald. Michael Chandler is now vacant, and the election is during next year's Democratic primary.
  • After a 30-minute delay due to technical difficulties with the PowerPoint presentation, the Committee approved Midway Moving and Storage’s application to renew a Class 6(b) tax break for its 60,400 square foot warehouse on 4100 W. Ferdinand St. The ordinance will advance to the full City Council for a vote at next week’s meeting.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Howard Brookins, Jr. (20), Gregory Mitchell (7), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Willie Cochran (20), Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Jason Ervin (28), Milly Santiago (31), Gilbert Villegas (36), Emma Mitts (37), Michele Smith (43), Tom Tunney (44)

    A Class 6(b) real estate tax incentive is intended to reduce vacant industrial real estate in Cook County by providing businesses with a lower tax rate if they commit to rehabbing vacant industrial buildings or constructing new industrial property. Properties receiving a Class 6(b) designation will be assessed by the Cook County Assessor at 10% of market value for the first 10 years, 15% in the 11th year and 20% the 12th year. Industrial buildings that don’t receive the designation are assessed at 25% of market value.

    According to testimony from Denise Roman, with the Department of Planning and Development, the company seeks a renewal to expand the warehouse and hire additional staff. The company plans to spend $1,226,300 on the expansion plan, she says.

    Ald. Jason Ervin (28) sponsored the ordinance to renew the company's 6b designation which was first awarded in 2004. He touted the company’s record of hiring ex-offenders and the free shredding days the company co-hosts with local aldermen. Neighboring Ald. Emma Mitts (37) gave similar praise.

    Former Committee chairman Ald. Tom Tunney (44) asked the company’s principal, Jerry Siegel, about the need for additional document storage space. Siegel says the company is looking to expand its document storage services and that he is actively pursuing area hospitals as new clients.

  • "Raising the floor," is a common refrain from Women Employed Executive Director Anne Ladky. Much of her summer has been spent co-chairing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Working Families Task Force with Ald. Ameya Pawar (37). Modeled after the Minimum Wage Task Force, the group is responsible for recommending worker-friendly employment changes throughout the city after 82% of Chicagoans said they’d be in favor of mandating paid sick leave in a February referendum. A paid sick leave ordinance already has the support of more than half the City Council, but Ladky says the task force is also talking about scheduling and access to dependent care, but employers have to take the bait.

    “Profitability and good care of employees can go hand in hand…we know it can be done,” Ladky told Aldertrack in an interview last week. To get businesses to buy in, the Task Force and in turn, city government “need to make job quality a business advantage.”

  • With less than two weeks left before the full City Council is expected to approve the Mayor’s budget, aldermen will take up pieces, and possibly amend parts, of the Mayor’s $7.8 billion dollar spending plan in various committee meetings scheduled this and next week. Of major concern to aldermen are the Mayor’s proposed property tax increase and monthly garbage fee.

    The Committee on Finance has scheduled an early, 9:00 a.m. public hearing this morning on the Mayor’s plan to phase in the property tax increase over the next four years. The hearing, known as a “Truth in Taxation Hearing”, is required by state law. And while aldermen have been reminding homeowners about the hearing in their weekly newsletters, it’s unclear how many homeowners will show up to testify against the tax increase. The actual vote on the property tax levy and other revenue proposals that will pay for the $7.8 billion dollar budget, will occur at Tuesday’s  finance meeting. The Committee on Budget will meet later this the afternoon (1:00 p.m.) to take up the official budget ordinances the Mayor introduced at the full City Council meeting last week.  

    As previously reported, the Emanuel Administration introduced a supplemental property tax levy increase for 2015 of $326.8 million. Property levies are collected the year following their announcement. For 2016, another property tax levy increase is expected to collect $109.5 million. To put that in perspective, in  2014, the Chicago property tax levy was $859.5 million, which means that by 2016, the Chicago property tax levy will be increased by 50%. For the final two years, 2017 and 2018, the City will collect at least $703.3 million and $766.7 million respectively. Additional levies may be called for to pay for regular city services.

    The Mayor says the property tax revenue will shore up funds for the massively underfunded police and fire pension funds. But the budgeted amounts are not based on the existing state statute, which requires that those two pension funds are 90% funded by 2040. Instead, the amounts are based on a bill in Springfield, SB777, which extends the 90% funding requirement to 2055.    

    In order to make his historic property tax increase palatable aldermen who have to defend his spending plan to their constituents, Mayor Emanuel promised to include an exemption from homeowners with homes valued at $250,000 and under, but some aldermen remain skeptical that it will pass through Springfield.

    “I can’t get a straight answer from anyone on the status of it,” Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) said of the mayor’s exemption plan. The Northwest Side aldermen said he is, “leaning against supporting the budget,” after receiving more than a thousand phone calls, emails, and personal visits from constituents angered by the Mayor’s property tax increase.

    But a lot of the homes in Ald. Napolitano’s ward are worth more than $250,000, so they won’t benefit from the exemption, and a significant amount of his constituents are public pensioners. “So they see the importance of funding the pensions, but they also see the property tax increase as ‘double dipping,’” Ald. Napolitano explained that the public employees in his ward believe they already paid their share and are now being asked to pay more.  

    Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) said the mayor’s property tax increase also “gives him pause”, mainly because he is also skeptical that Springfiled can get the Mayor’s exemption approved in time, given their inability to pass a state budget. As a former state lobbyist, Ald. Villegas has a lot of connections in Springfield and is keeping a close eye on the unrest in the state capitol, and he has found that state lawmakers down there, especially those not from Chicago, don’t see Mayor Emanuel’s agenda as a priority.

    “Can [the mayor’s exemption plan] be passed out of the house? Yea. The senate? Probably. But when the whole state is in flux, everything is more controversial,” Ald. Villegas explained that while he doesn’t want to “underestimate” the Mayor’s influence in Springfield, he finds Gov. Bruce Rauner to be too much of a wild card and is concerned his colleagues in the Council aren’t aware of how bad the situation is in the state capitol. “We’ve never had a governor like this, this is a whole different situation,” Villegas said. “I think [the governor] is ready to burn the whole place down. This is what he did in the private sector.”

    Ald. Joe Moreno (1) is behind one of the two property tax rebate plans that have been introduced in the City Council. Moreno’s plan would help homeowners with household incomes below $100,000. He dismissed arguments that the County doesn’t have the technology or staff in place to implement a rebate, asserting that while it isn’t as good as an exemption, it is something the Council could take action on without the reliance of Springfield. “It’s the solution we have that we can vote on. I don’t want us to say that Springfield has to vote on things,” Moreno said, adding that he believes the Mayor is “warming to the idea” and his staff is reviewing the plan. “I don’t think Springfield has shown they’re willing to address anything.”